Spring Practice Notebook: Day 2

Second verse, same as the first. For the second consecutive day, the WVU football team worked on installing the various aspects of its offensive and defensive schemes in spring practice, as the emphasis, for at least another day, was on the mental side of the game as much as (if not more than) the physical side.

To that end, Wednesday afternoon's session at Milan Puskar Stadium looked a lot like Tuesday's opener to the spring practice period. Players once again were in helmets, shorts and "vests" for the workout, which lasted just a bit longer than two hours.

Those 120 minutes were broken up into 24 periods of five minutes each. The majority of those were spent with players working with their position coaches, emphasizing the fundamentals of their role on the field.

But in the last half of practice, several "competitive" drills were done as well.

For the second straight day, wide receivers and cornerbacks went one-on-one with each other to see who would win out.

As it did for much of the day, the defense seemed to get the upper hand.

Brodrick Jenkins had an impressive pass break-ups in the one-on-ones, undercutting DB-turned-receiver Eddie Davis. Jenkins timed his leap perfectly, deflecting the ball well out of reach of the intended receiver.

Davis was victimized again later in the drill, when Keith Tandy made a similar athletic move, getting between the ball and Davis on a crossing pattern and just getting an outstretched hand on the ball.

But the offense had its moments as well.

When the action moved to 7-on-7 pass "skeleton" drills, rising sophomore quarterback Geno Smith made his presence felt, firing a near-perfect strike to receiver J.D. Woods, who was running a flag route on the play.

Smith, still wearing a green jersey to signal that his participation would be limited by the broken bone in his foot, found Woods open just past cornerback Pat Miller for what would have been a gain of at least 30 yards.

Receiver Stedman Bailey also made his former high school teammate Smith look good on another play in the 7-on-7 period, breaking well clear of his defender and making a difficult adjustment to find a pass that had its trajectory altered because of a wind gust. He dove and made a clean catch for roughly 30 yards.

But the day was still a struggle for the offense in general, especially once full scale 11-on-11 drills began in the final portion of practice.

Smith is not allowed to participate in those periods because, according to offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen, the risk of his injured foot being stepped on (and, thus, further damaged) is simply too great.

So the entirety of the quarterback reps went to rising junior Coley White, who again struggled mightily. His long and intermediate throws were inconsistent, and he settled for short tosses and screens on the majority of snaps.

On the occasions he did throw deep, he most often missed receivers by a wide margin. The rising sophomore cornerback Jenkins somehow dropped a seemingly sure interception when White's throw sailed well over the head of Woods on a pass about 20 yards downfield.

But the offense still did have Noel Devine, and the senior running back looked as impressive as ever. Devine turned in perhaps the most impressive five-yard loss in the history of West Virginia football on one play, making several impressive stagger and jab steps before juking to keep a play alive for several extra seconds.

He showed his trademark burst of acceleration on several other occasions, getting to the outside and cranking up the speed on those occasions when he was able to get to the edge of the blue-clad defense.

RIFLE REPORTS:

  • Transfer kicker Corey Smith struggled with his touch on field goals in the opening periods of the practice. Smith, a Mountain State native who returned home after transferring from Alabama, was only two-of-five in a period where kickers were tasked with kicking from various spots on the field.

    He converted kicks of 20 and 40 yards, while missing attempts from 29, 37 and 42 yards out.

    Smith took the majority of attempts with returning starter Tyler Bitancurt held out of practice once again, as he recovers from an ankle injury.

    The Alabama transfer looked much better during punt work, as both he and returning back-up Greg Pugnetti consistently boomed high kicks that traveled 40-45 yards in the air before being fielded.

  • In addition to Bitancurt, receiver Ryan Nehlen and defensive lineman Scooter Berry continued to wear red jerseys, signaling no participation in practice.

    Geno Smith and Bradley Starks both donned green shirts to show that their participation would be limited.

  • Class conflicts held at least two other regular Mountaineer starters out of the workout.

    Slot receiver Jock Sanders was not in attendance on Wednesday night, while safety Sidney Glover arrived just before the end of practice (in street clothes, not football gear) for the second consecutive evening.

  • There will be no practice Thursday. Players and coaches will return to the turf on Friday for the first session in "shells."


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